This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
L-119694 May 22, 1995 PHILIPPINE PRESS INSTITUTE, INC., for and in behalf of 139 members, represented by its President, Amado P. Macasaet and its Executive Director Ermin F. Garcia, Jr., petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent. RESOLUTION FELICIANO, J.: The Philippine Press Institute, Inc. ("PPI") is before this Court assailing the constitutional validity of Resolution No. 2772 issued by respondent Commission on Elections ("Comelec") and its corresponding Comelec directive dated 22 March 1995, through a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition. Petitioner PPI is a non-stock, non-profit organization of newspaper and magazine publishers. On 2 March 1995, Comelec promulgated Resolution No. 2772, which reads in part: xxx xxx xxx Sec. 2. Comelec Space. — The Commission shall procure free print space of not less than one half (1/2) page in at least one newspaper of general circulation in every province or city for use as "Comelec Space" from March 6, 1995 in the case of candidates for senator and from March 21, 1995 until May 12, 1995. In the absence of said newspaper, "Comelec Space" shall be obtained from any magazine or periodical of said province or city. Sec. 3. Uses of Comelec Space. — "Comelec Space" shall be allocated by the Commission, free of charge, among all candidates within the area in which the newspaper, magazine or periodical is circulated to enable the candidates to make known their qualifications, their stand on public issues and their platforms and programs of government. "Comelec Space" shall also be used by the Commission for dissemination of vital election information. Sec. 4. Allocation of Comelec Space. — (a) "Comelec Space" shall also be available to all candidatesduring the periods stated in Section 2 hereof. Its allocation shall be equal and impartial among all candidates for the same office. All candidates concerned shall be furnished a copy of the allocation of "Comelec Space" for their information, guidance and compliance. (b) Any candidate desiring to avail himself of "Comelec Space" from newspapers or publications based in the Metropolitan Manila Area shall submit an application therefor, in writing, to the Committee on Mass Media of the Commission. Any candidate desiring to avail himself of "Comelec Space" in newspapers or publications based in the provinces shall submit his application therefor, in writing, to the Provincial Election Supervisor concerned. Applications for availment of "Comelec Space" maybe filed at any time from the date of effectivity of this Resolution. (c) The Committee on Mass Media and the Provincial Election Supervisors shall allocate available"Comelec Space" among the candidates concerned by lottery of which said candidates shall be notified in advance, in writing, to be present personally or by representative to witness the lottery at the date, time and place specified in the notice. Any party objecting to the result of the lottery may appeal to the Commission. (d) The candidates concerned shall be notified by the Committee on Mass Media or the Provincial Election Supervisor, as the case maybe, sufficiently in advance and in writing of the date of issue and the newspaper or publication allocated to him, and the time within which he must submit the written material for publication in the "Comelec Space".
2772 unconstitutional and void on the ground that it violates the prohibition imposed by the Constitution upon the government. the Malaya and the Philippine Times Journal. 2772 does not impose upon the publishers any obligation to provide free print space in the newspapers as it does not provide any criminal or administrative sanction for non-compliance with that Resolution. . Comelec through Commissioner Regalado E. Indeed. LEN. the Philippine Star. Chairman Pardo represented to the Court that Resolution and the related letter-directives were merely designed to solicit from the publishers the same free print space which many publishers had voluntarily given to Comelec during the election period relating to the 11 May 1992 elections. We trust you to extend your full support and cooperation in this regard. 2772. all members of PPI. that very afternoon. The Office of the Solicitor General filed its Comment on behalf of respondent Comelec alleging that Comelec Resolution No. These letters read as follows: This is to advise you that pursuant to Resolution No. impartial and credible election. the same would nevertheless be valid as an exercise of the police power of the State.15. 2 At the oral hearing of this case held on 28 April 1995. this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining Comelec from enforcing and implementing Section 2 of Resolution No. 1995. biographical data. According to the Solicitor General. from March 6. the Solicitor General argues that even if the questioned Resolution and its implementing letter directives are viewed as mandatory. and any of its agencies. particularly Section 2 thereof and the 22 March 1995 letters dispatched to various members of petitioner PPI. their stand on public issues and their platforms and programs of government. 1995 to May 6. or other sections of the newspaper or publication accounts or comments which manifestly favor or oppose any candidate or political party by unduly or repeatedly referring to or including therein said candidate or political party. to various publishers of newspapers like the Business World. Petitioner also contends that the 22 March 1995 letter directives of Comelec requiring publishers to give free "Comelec Space" and at the same time process raw data to make it camera-ready. At the same time. were not intended to compel those members to supply Comelec with free print space. 1995 which is the last day for campaigning. contrary to the provisions of Section 18 (2). Finally. as well as the Comelec directives addressed to various print media enterprises all dated 22 March 1995. PPI argues that Section 8 of Comelec Resolution No. Article III of the 1987 Constitution. meet and adopt an appropriate amending or clarifying resolution. We shall be informing the political parties and candidates to submit directly to you their pictures. Bernardo Pardo. in response to inquiries from the Chief Justice and other Members of the Court. 2772 of the Commission on Elections. newsworthy and of public interest. (Emphasis supplied) Apparently in implementation of this Resolution. 2772 is a permissible exercise of the power of supervision or regulation of the Comelec over the communication and information operations of print media enterprises during the election period to safeguard and ensure a fair. 8. The Solicitor General also maintains that Section 8 of Resolution No. stand on key public issues and platforms of government either as raw data or in the form of positives or camera-ready materials. constitute impositions of involuntary servitude. 1 On 20 April 1995. Maambong sent identical letters. PPI asks us to declare Comelec Resolution No. respondent Comelec through its Chairman.PAGE 2 OF 5 xxx xxx xxx Sec. the Chairman stated that the Comelec would. features. against the taking of private property for public use without just compensation. — No newspaper or publication shall allow to be printed or published in the news. dated 22 March 1995. 2772. opinion. The Court also required the respondent to file a Comment on the Petition. However. Hon. 1992 synchronized elections which was 2 full pages for each political party fielding senatorial candidates. you aredirected to provide free print space of not less than one half (1/2) page for use as "Comelec Space"or similar to the print support which you have extended during the May 11. (Emphasis supplied) In this Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order. unless the facts and circumstances clearly indicate otherwise. Please be reminded that the political parties/candidates may be accommodated in your publication any day upon receipt of their materials until May 6. however. Undue Reference to Candidates/Political Parties in Newspapers. of the press and of expression. a certified true copy of which would forthwith be filed with the Court. the Commission will respect the determination by the publisher and/or editors of the newspapers or publications that the accounts or views published are significant." the procedure for and mode of allocation of such space to candidates and the conditions or requirements for the candidate's utilization of the "Comelec space" procured. 2772 is violative of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech. stated that Resolution No. to make known their qualifications. the questioned Resolution merely established guidelines to be followed in connection with the procurement of "Comelec space.
2772 shall not be construed to mean as requiring publishers of the different mass media print publications to provide print space under pain of prosecution. Indeed. there being no sanction or penalty for violation of said Section provided for either in said Resolution or in Section 90 of Batas Pambansa Blg. dispatched by a government (here a constitutional) agency and signed by a member of the Commission presumably legally authorized to do so. Section 2 of Resolution No. 2772 is not a model of clarity in expression." This Resolution shall take effect upon approval. 2772 is clearly susceptible of the reading that petitioner PPI has given it. we consider it not inappropriate to pass upon the first constitutional issue raised in this case. The monetary value of the compulsory "donation. The element of necessity for the taking has not been shown by respondent Comelec. The threshold requisites for a lawful taking of private property for public use need to be examined here: one is the necessity for the taking. amounts to "taking" of private personal property for public use or purposes. Section 2 failed to specify the intended frequency of such compulsory "donation:" only once during the period from 6 March 1995 (or 21 March 1995) until 12 May 1995? or everyday or once a week? or as often as Comelec may direct during the same period? The extent of the taking or deprivation is not insubstantial. or cause the imposition of. the Commission on Elections RESOLVED to clarify Sections 2 and 8 of Res. Section 2 of Res. Section 1 of Resolution No. 2772 does not. the Court could perhaps simply dismiss the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition as having become moot and academic. Section 2 of Resolution No. A written communication officially directing a print media company to supply free print space. . To compel print media companies to donate "Comelec-space" of the dimensions specified in Section 2 of Resolution No. another is the legal authority to effect the taking. we must point out that. only aggravates the constitutional difficulties inhearing in the present situation. Section 2 of Resolution No. Thus. It has not been suggested that the members of PPI are unwilling to sell print space at their normal rates to Comelec for election purposes. That Resolution No. it is not casually to be assumed. That the agency may not be legally authorized to impose. the Omnibus Election Code. 2772 (not less than one-half page). LEN. as presently worded. is bound to produce a coercive effect upon the company so addressed. 2772 as follows: 1. 2772 shall not be construed to mean as constituting prior restraint on the part of publishers with respect to the printing or publication of materials in the news. 3Similarly. Republic Acts No. the unwillingness or reluctance of Comelec to buy print space lies at the heart of the problem. 2772 persists in its original form. 881. on the grant of "Comelec space. 2772-A dated 4 May 1995. The operative portion of this Resolution follows: NOW THEREFORE. newsworthy and of public interest. . in express terms. No. the Court received from the Office of the Solicitor General a manifestation which attached a copy of Comelec Resolution No. pursuant to the powers vested in it by the Constitution. (Emphasis in the original) While. features or other sections of their respective publications or other accounts or comments." measured by the advertising rates ordinarily charged by newspaper publishers whether in cities or in non-urban areas. . accordingly. that Comelec has been granted the power of eminent domain either by the Constitution or by the legislative authority. A reasonable relationship between that power and the enforcement and administration of election laws by Comelec must be shown. The enactment or addition of such sanctions by the legislative authority itself would be open to serious constitutional objection. Section 8 of Res.15. it being clear from the last sentence of said Section 8 that the Commission shall." 2. at this point. No. otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code. it has not been suggested. opinion. threaten publishers who would disregard it or its implementing letters with some criminal or other sanction. civil or criminal. criminal or other sanctions for disregard of such directions. 2772-A did not try to redraft Section 2. 6646 and 7166 and other election laws. The taking of print space here sought to be effected may first be appraised under the rubric of expropriation of private personal property for public use. does not by itself demonstrate that the Comelec's original intention was simply to solicit or request voluntary donations of print space from publishers. respect the determination by the publisher and/or editors of the newspapers or publications that the accounts or views published are significant. and in particular as interpreted and applied by the Comelec itself in its 22 March 1995 letterdirectives to newspaper publishers. Our hope is to put this issue to rest and prevent its resurrection. may be very substantial indeed. No. this is not a case of a de minimis temporary limitation or restraint upon the use of private property.PAGE 3 OF 5 On 5 May 1995. whether administrative. "unless the facts and circumstances clearly indicate otherwise . let alone demonstrated.
15. circulars. We would note that the ruling here laid down by the Court is entirely in line with the theory of democratic representative government. Section 2 does not constitute a valid exercise of the police power of the State. there was no attempt to show compliance in the instant case with the requisites of a lawful taking under the police power. Undue Reference to Candidates/Political Parties in Newspapers. newsworthy and of public interest. As earlier noted. to publishers to donate free print space. as Section 1 of Resolution No. features. This argument was. etc. or other sections of the newspaper or publication accounts or comments which manifestly favor or oppose any candidate or political party by unduly or repeatedly referring to or including therein said candidate or political party. No attempt was made to demonstrate that a real and palpable or urgent necessity for the taking of print space confronted the Comelec and that Section 2 of Resolution No. regulations. the Solicitor General also contended that Section 2 of Resolution No. notices and so forth need officially to be brought to the attention of the general public. Section 2 of Resolution No. The taking of private property for public use is. commentaries and expressions of belief or opinion by reporters. known as the Electoral Reforms Law of 1987. 2772 was itself the only reasonable and calibrated response to such necessity available to the Comelec. under Section 3 of Resolution No. issued by Comelec). which prohibits the sale or donation of print space and airtime for campaign or other political purposes. — No newspaper or publication shall allow to be printed or published in the news. but not without payment of "just compensation" (Article III. except to the Comelec. from (b) the reporting of news. editors. rather than cast solely on one small sector of society. qualifications and programs of government of candidates for elective office but also for "dissemination of vital election information" (including. The benefits which flow from a heightened level of information on and the awareness of the electoral process are commonly thought to be community-wide. In any case. or perhaps an appeal. We turn to Section 8 of Resolution No. the Commission will respect the determination by the publisher and/or editors of the newspapers or publications that the accounts or views published are significant. It seems to the Court a matter of judicial notice that government offices and agencies (including the Supreme Court) simply purchase print space. 2772. the free "Comelec space" sought by the respondent Commission would be used not only for informing the public about the identities. including purchase and sale disguised as a donation. authorized by the Constitution. even if read as compelling publishers to "donate" "Comelec space. in the kind of factual context here present. whether Section 2 of Resolution No. 2772 is a blunt and heavy instrument that purports. against their will. the burdens should be allocated on the same basis. We note only that. broadcasters. print media enterprises. Analysis ofSection 11 (b) shows that it purports to apply only to the purchase and sale. 6646. there was no effort (and apparently no inclination on the part of Comelec) to show that the police power — essentially a power of legislation — has been constitutionally delegated to respondent Commission. i. commentators or columnists which fall outside the scope of Section 11 (b) and which are protected by the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and of the press: Secondly. while private property may indeed be validly taken in the legitimate exercise of the police power of the state. 8. which needs to be quoted in full again: Sec. the Court carefully distinguished (a) paid political advertisements which are reached by the prohibition of Section 11 (b). however. opinion. 6 There the Court sustained the constitutionality of Section 11 (b) of R. notices. There is nothing at all to prevent newspaper and magazine publishers from voluntarily giving free print space to Comelec for the purposes contemplated in Resolution No. 4 Secondly. The economic costs of informing the general public about the qualifications and programs of those seeking elective office are most appropriately distributed as widely as possible throughout our society by the utilization of public funds. of course. of print space and air time for campaign or other political purposes. made too casually to require prolonged consideration on our part. No. 2772. In doing so. without a showing of existence of a national emergency or other imperious public necessity. LEN. Section 9).PAGE 4 OF 5 That the taking is designed to subserve "public use" is not contested by petitioner PPI. when their rules and regulations.5 Section 2 of Resolution No. presumably. 2772 is read as petitioner PPI reads it. as an assertion of authority to require newspaper publishers to "donate" free print space for Comelec purposes. to provide free print space for Comelec purposes.Section 11 . " may be sustained as a valid exercise of the police power of the state. indiscriminately and without regard to the individual business condition of particular newspapers or magazines located in differing parts of the country.. Firstly. 2772 does not. to take private property of newspaper or magazine publishers. 2772-A attempts to suggest. 2772. and more importantly. Section 2 does not constitute a valid exercise of the power of eminent domain. circulars. however. Commission on Elections. 2772. Section 8 should be viewed in the context of our decision in National Press Club v. However. especially funds raised by taxation. 2772. directives.e. It is not easy to understand why Section 8 was included at all in Resolution No. in the ordinary course of events. unless the facts and circumstances clearly indicate otherwise. or as an exhortation.A. Section 11 (b) is limited in its scope of application. provide a constitutional basis for compelling publishers. And apparently the necessity of paying compensation for "Comelec space" is precisely what is sought to be avoided by respondent Commission.
as the very lis mota thereof. time and space. 2772. JJ. In sum. on a case-to-case basis. Moreover. in its present form and as interpreted by Comelec in its 22 March 1995 letter directives.J. Quiason. Regalado. Section 2 of Resolution No. . purports to require print media enterprises to "donate" free print space to Comelec.. C. Section 2 of Resolution No. the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition is GRANTED in part and Section 2 of Resolution No. the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition must be dismissed for lack of an actual. the Court is bound to note that PPI has failed to allege any specific affirmative action on the part of Comelec designed to enforce or implement Section 8. Romero. Section 11 (b) does not reach commentaries and expressions of belief or opinion by reporters or broadcaster or editors or commentators or columnists in respect of candidates. Section 11 (b) is not to be read as reaching any report or commentary or other coverage that. 2772. their qualifications. Vitug. . Narvasa. At all events. Kapunan. Section 4 of the Constitution to supervise or regulate the enjoyment or utilization of all franchise or permits for the operation of — media of communication or information — [for the purpose of ensuring] equal opportunity. . Section 2 suffers from a fatal constitutional vice and must be set aside and nullified. in responsible media. for all the foregoing. . Davide.. Puno. justiciable case or controversy. Padilla. including reasonable. 2. 2772 constitutes a permissible exercise of the Comelec's power under Article IX. 2772 in its present form and the related letter-directives dated 22 March 1995 are hereby SET ASIDE as null and void. so long at least as such comments. equal rates therefore. their qualifications. 2772-A while possibly helpful. in terms of very specific sets of facts. and the right of reply. opinions and beliefs are not in fact advertisements for particular candidates covertly paid for. The distinction between paid political advertisements on the one hand and news reports. on the other hand. 7 (Citations omitted. We read Section 11 (b) as designed to cover only paid political advertisements of particular candidates. for public information campaigns and forums among candidates in connection with the objective of holding free. the Court considers that the precise constitutional issue here sought to be raised — whether or not Section 8 of Resolution No. 2772 appears to represent the effort of the Comelec to establish a guideline for implementation of the above-quoted distinction and doctrine in National Press Club an effort not blessed with evident success. to the extent it relates to Section 8 of Resolution No. can realistically be given operative meaning only in actual cases or controversies. commentaries and expressions of belief or opinion by reporters. Mendoza and Francisco. Melo. and the Temporary Restraining Order is hereby MADE PERMANENT. Jr. Commission on Elections. Put a little differently. peaceful and credible elections — is not ripe for judicial review for lack of an actual case or controversy involving. concur. As such. broadcasters.PAGE 5 OF 5 (b) does not purport in any way to restrict the reporting by newspapers or radio ortelevision stations of news or news-worthy events relating to candidates. The above limitation in scope of application of Section 11 (b) — that it does not restrict either the reporting of or the expression of belief or opinion or comment upon the qualifications and programs and activities of any and all candidates for office — constitutes the critical distinction which must be made between the instant case and that of Sanidad v. is not paid for by candidates for political office. The Petition is DISMISSED in part. is on leave. and programs and so forth. orderly honest. editors. LEN. WHEREFORE. political parties and programs of government...15. the constitutionality of Section 8. To the extent it pertains to Section 8 of Resolution No. emphasis supplied) Section 8 of Resolution No. Summarizing our conclusions: 1. PPI has not claimed that it or any of its members has sustained actual or imminent injury by reason of Comelec action under Section 8. Bellosillo. J. does not add substantially to the utility of Section 8 of Resolution No. No pronouncement as to costs. 2772. etc. 2772.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.